Wednesday, June 3, 2015

on procedural logic of landscape urbanism | egs by Stan Allen

Stan Allen frames his lecture at SCI-Arc as a reappraisal of what was valuable about Landscape Urbanism, and its potential deficiencies. Allen considers the working variables in Landscape Urbanism with an attention to process andchange. Through the presentation of several projects he shows how these variables informed his urban designs. These projects include the Taichung Gateway, the Yan-Ping Waterfront, and Gwanggyo Lakeside Park. He follows his discussion on Landscape Urbanism with a shift to smaller scale architectural projects including the Sagaponac House, Salim Publishing House, and Chosen Children Village Chapel.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Esther Polak, Waag Society & Jeroen Kee: Amsterdam RealTime (2001) - imp...

GPS-equipped pedestrians sketch out the city plan of Amsterdam as a record of their everyday itineraries. Their paths appear as lines of light on a black ground, only to be gradually effaced, giving way to the traces of other walkers. But the work is a fragile gesture, fraught with ambiguity: the individual’s wavering life-line appears at once as testimony of human singularity in time, and proof of infallible performance by the satellite mapping system.

a network approach on collective memory


We understand the dynamics of the world around us as by associating pairs of events, where one event has some influence on the other. These pairs of events can be aggregated into a web of memories representing our understanding of an episode of history. The events and the associations between them need not be directly experienced—they can also be acquired by communication. In this paper we take a network approach to study the dynamics of memories of history.

Methodology/Principal Findings

First we investigate the network structure of a data set consisting of reported events by several individuals and how associations connect them. We focus our measurement on degree distributions, degree correlations, cycles (which represent inconsistencies as they would break the time ordering) and community structure. We proceed to model effects of communication using an agent-based model. We investigate the conditions for the memory webs of different individuals to converge to collective memories, how groups where the individuals have similar memories (but different from other groups) can form.


Our work outlines how the cognitive representation of memories and social structure can co-evolve as a contagious process. We generate some testable hypotheses including that the number of groups is limited as a function of the total population size.


Figure 1. Structural properties of an empirical aggregated memory web.
(A) displays cumulative in- and outdegree distributions. (B) shows the clustering coefficient as a function of the in and out degrees. In panel (C) we investigate the degree–degree correlation by plotting the average neighbor degree  as a function of the in- and outdegree of an agent. (D) is a plot of the largest connected component of the aggregated memory web, highlighting the modular structure. A weighted-network clustering scheme identifies 48 smaller groups. If these are treated as vertices and the same clustering scheme is applied to that network of groups, we discover four supergroups indicated by different colors.

Our model has three basic assumptions. First, that people, while communicating, influence each other's associations; so that the higher the frequency with which an individual hears another person make an association between events, the stronger that association becomes in the individual's memory web. Second, the stronger an association is, the more likely an individual is to talk about it. Third, people are more likely to communicate with people that they perceive as similar to them (in terms of age, interests, location, etc

Figure 2. Illustrations of the model.
(A) shows an illustration of the social network of agents. The thickness of the lines are proportional to the strength of the social connection—the familiarity F. The social networks can have communities (encircled in the figure)—groups of agents that are more strongly connected

The concept of memory has both psychological and social dimensions  In historical discourse, it has lately drifted more towards the latter . We model collective memory based on five principles—the experience of actual events, communication across social networks, reinforcement of both memories and social ties from the communication, errors and misconceptions, and forgetting. Our model takes an external memory web as input, a network meant to represent a hypothetical web of associations of unbiased, well informed but otherwise normal individuals. We use an empirical dataset for this seed network constructed from the life-stories of fourteen Chinese villagers. This dataset says something about memory webs in its own right. Most of the events are connected into a large component—the villagers can associate one event to another and thereby cover most of the important events around them during their lives.The model predict three different scenarios of collective memories—either the memories are very personal (each agent has its own view of history), or all agents think more or less the same, or (the intermediate case) there are distinct groups which share the same view of history. 

Hello Lamp Post - Austin

“The Architectural Relevance of Cybernetics”

In 1969, Pask wrote “The Architectural Relevance of Cybernetics.” He predicted that computer-aided design tools would develop into “useful instruments;” the “machine for living in” would predict the behavior of its users and residents and engage its resident’s interest — not unlike an advanced Musicolour machine–and computers would control and change the qualities of material surfaces, using sensors to return information to the computer about the interaction.He wrote:
Let us turn the design paradigm in upon itself; let us apply it to the interaction between the designer and the system he designs, rather than the interaction between the system and the people who inhabit it. The glove fits, almost perfectly in the case when the designer uses a computer as his assistant. In other words, the relation ‘controller/controlled entity’ is preserved when these omnibus words are replaced either by ‘designer/system being designed’ or by ‘systemic environment/inhabitants’ or by ‘urban plan/city’ … But notice the trick … the designer does much the same job as his system, but he operates at a higher level in the organizational hierarchy… Further, the design goal is nearly always underspecified and the ‘controller’ is no longer the authoritarian apparatus which this purely technical name brings to mind.[7]

Gordon Pask developed musical cybernetic systems that count as early cyborg hybrids. His 1953 Musicolour machine accompanied musical performers. As the performer or group played, Musicolour responded with lights and movement to the music would change, creating a sort of hypnotic effect for those who played with it. But if the performer became too repetitive and did not engage the machine enough, Musicolour would grow bored and stop responding—the first cybernetic art system to do so
 Turning the design paradigm upon itself produces a new form of architecture. Internalizing the lessons of cybernetics externalizes the possibilities for architecture and for art to respond to the people that engage with it — as we will see with architect Cedric Price’s collaborations with Pask.

Cedric price, 
The Generator, an early investigation into artificially intelligent architecture, was designed with no specific program, but only a desired end-effect, in mind.
edric Price explored a type of architecture that, like medicine, would operate less as a remedy for the ills of society and more as a preventive system, creating flexible conditions previously thought impossible within a socially beneficial environment. This complicated project, for which many drawings and diagrams were made, was essentially a system of cubelike elements that could be moved and combined with others or with additional elements to create temporary structures for a rehearsal or performance space, housing, or just contemplation within a lush natural setting. The computer would encourage the visitor to continually refine and improve his or her design. In fact, change and artistic freedom are the underlying ideas of the Generator; they were considered prerequisites, and the computer was to be programmed to make unsolicited alterations should the framework remain static. Price's intricate scheme to provide an environment dedicated to nurturing the arts was never built.

Francis Alÿs Sometimes Making Something Leads to Nothing

the urban-extended-field-

Schizoanalytic Cartographies

Από εδώ

Schizoanalytic CartographiesSchizoanalytic Cartographies is an ambitious and thought-provoking book that provides a detailed exposition of Guattari’s version of schizoanalysis, a form of analysis that he extracts from the debris of a reductionist psychoanalysis. As part of this approach, Guattari looks to “minimize the use of notions like those of subjectivity, consciousness, significance … as transcendental entities that are impermeable to concrete situations” (page 23) and instead provides an array of terms which he offers as instruments for a speculative cartography. The schizoanalytic cartographies of the title, then, are maps which refuse a fixed and invariant domain of subjectivity, but are rather relational configurations which change state and status as a function of particular assemblages. Guattari imagines this as a framework with which to protect schizoanalysis from the temptation to give in to the ideal of scientificity that ordinarily prevails and, as such, we may read his schizoanalytic cartographies as attempts to position, if only temporarily, singularities and processes of singularisation. What is at stake here is the enunciation of singularities which are outside of the dominant coordinates, on the basis of which ‘mutant universes of reference’ can spring up and for which “no calculation can predict the position or the potentialities” (page 104).

The sometimes oblique nature of the writing relates to Guattari’s attempt to establish a new analytic that might capture new modes of expression; this can be seen in how the syntax itself creates forms of schizo-cartographies. Take his discussion of existence and diagrams, for instance:
Cycle of the Assemblages of enunciation“We must now examine the impact of expressive smoothing (EC) on the structures of modular – I would be tempted to say medullary – reference. It is impossible to go in one direction without taking into account the counter-effect of that movement on the point one has just left! Because of the fractal unfolding of fields of possibility, this incidence of Expression on territorialized modules will not take place brutally but by thresholds, to the extent that new attractors of Content Cφ will acquire consistency.” (page 142)
As Goffey so eloquently puts it, this “is a question about the specificity of his theoretical practice, in the sense that the idiom, the idiosyncracy – the idiocy, even – of a jargon testifies to what it is that matters to it” (page xix)As his erstwhile collaborator (and admirer) Deleuze once noted, Guattari’s “ideas are like drawings, or even diagrams” (2006, page 238).

Προς μια απόπειρα απόρριψης του γενικού μοντέλου - ή « του κανονικοποιημένου σχιζοαναλυτικού πρωτοκόλλου» που απασχολούσε τον guattari. Είναι μια εσκεμμένη «μετατόπιση» της αναλυτική προβληματικής, μια εσκεμμένη μετατόπιση από την ανάλυση "των συστημάτων των καταστάσεων και των επιτελεσμένων υποκειμενικές δομών προς τις συναθροίσεις(assemblages) εκφοράς (enunciation), ώστε να δημιουργηθούν νέες συντεταγμένες ανάγνωσης και να« αναδυθούν "νέες αναπαραστάσεις και προτάσεις"(page 17).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The expanded field of landscape architecture_Elizabeth Meyer

Excerpt from the book here:

Think then of landscape architecture as a modern “other” and a postmodern “ground.” Let us propose that landscape architectural history and theory should be about the cultural, geomorphological, and ecological history of the preexisting site as well as the history of the design project and its designer. Let us propose that landscape architectural history and theory should be about the intersection of a site’s preexisting form and structure with the proposed design form and structure.
The intersection of geometry and geomorphology, of past site and present project, requires a dialogue between the site as a speaking figure and the designer’s markings on that site. Landscape design is not about monologues. Our concern for the many layers of form that are inscribed on a site often requires a “double voiced discourse, containing dominant and muted story, what Gilbert and Gubar call a palimpsest.”  This double-voiced discourse is predicated on a systems aesthetic, not an object aesthetic; it is about the relationship between things, not the things alone.
Relationships between things. Hybrids. Continuums. Cyborgs. Now we are able to circle back to the proper place of landscape architecture. Perhaps [Sherry] Ortner’s description of women’s intermediate position between nature and culture can act as an analog for landscape architecture’s position within the fields, theories, and practices of design and planning as well as within the conceptual frameworks of social and political life: 

Our built works on the land, like the theories we construct, are human interpretations of ourselves and the natural world. If nature is a cultural construct, one that evolves as our society changes, shouldn’t the field that is most concerned with shaping the land develop a shared language that reflects these hybrid relationships?
Why should we continue to rely on conceptual design categories that inadequately convey what is unique to our field—the systems, structures, and spaces of the land, of plants, of soils, of the seasons—and what is characteristic of postmodernity, our culture—the shifting of nature, the landscape, and ecological thinking from a marginal to a central concern?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

swarm urbanism

random eg.

+ κείμενο Neil Leach σε .pdf εδώ

representing multivariate data | The Exposed City: Mapping the Urban Invisibles

The Exposed City - Mapping the Urban Invisibles

If you love maps, not as just as visual artifacts but as part of design and planning methodology, Nadia Amoroso's recently published 'The Exposed City: Mapping the Urban Invisibles' (Routledge, 2010) will validate, comfort, and quite possibly amaze you. That's the effect it had on me - after quickly devouring this visually rich resource - I was full of ideas on representation and new uses for maps as valuable tools for urban studies, planning, and design.

While ostensibly advertised as a book on planning and geography, 'The Exposed City' offers a much broader natural extension of traditional static mapping as a tool for urbanism. Taking a number of historical precedents and new technologies, Amoroso looks at the vast amount of complex information that is collected and exists for urban areas and asks a simple question: "If a city was able to be defined by these characteristics, what for would it take? How could it be mapped?"

Mapping today is a common and accessible exercise (with hoards of of historical precedent to boot). Many designers work in GIS, have available digital tools and online maps, and get access to information that is often employed for diagrammatic purposes, utilized for a neo-McHargian overlay mapping. Most designers are familiar with a range of mapping techniques - but this book will challenge your concept of what you consider a map and how these may inform your work. The concepts in the book look at 'maps' of the urban invisibles - that information perceived yet hidden away in data sets - as a new opportunity for designers. The books thesis is regarding maps per se, but specifically "...the role of maps as both presentational results as aesthetic objects and informative tools, which could be used to influence architectural, landscape architectural and urban design moves." (p.xi)

:: Nolli map - image via @rchitecture
In short, the book moves through the work of Hugh Ferriss, who developed amazing graphic interpretations of buildings using the 1916 New York zoning ordinance, touches of the more well known work of Kevin Lynch (Image of the City), Richard Saul Wurman (Understanding USA), and visual communication guru Edward Tufte(Envisioning Information), satirically provocative MVRDV/Winy Maas (Datascapes), and finally trend-setting landscape architect James Corner (map-drawings). Together these actors outline a methodology of data-mapping that offers many potential expanded opportunities for architects, landscape architects, and urbanists to generate, represent, and develop data-driven visions for a range of issues.

Instead of going into massive detail (which Amoroso does nicely and which from reviewing my notes would take multiple posts) I thought I'd give a few snapshots that resonated with me, and leave it for you to discover all of the rich content and leads outlined within. Trust me - get the book - it will give you plenty of ideas and fodder for discussion and thought, whatever problem, scale, solution, or design you make be working through.

I was immediately struck in Chapter 1 by the work of Hugh Ferriss (which was 100% new material to me) and his amazing three-dimensional renderings of urban potentials based on complexities of codes - specifically crunching the zoning codes of 1916 to create 'potential scenarios' that gave developers ideas of how they could maximize buildings within the existing parameters. In the following image, the graphic evolves from a massing study, gaining articulation, fenestration, and finally a realistic potential urban massing. The result is not a building, but a "...sculptural impression of a completed design for a skyscraper in which the careful arrangement of the masses in accordance with the legal and economic measures of zoning ensures the building's practicability." (p.14) Or, simply, a map.

:: Evolution of the Set-back Building - image via the/hectic/interlude!!!

Our historic perceptions of the stylistic architecture of the 1920's may lead us to see a common building form in these drawings, but at the type of architecture at the time was quite revolutionary (a collection of his work is titled 'The Metropolis of Tomorrow'). These drawings provided a blueprint for many architects and developers of the time - meaning the 'maps' influenced the future urban form: "Indeed, as the new breed of towers began to rise, Ferriss's moody drawings of their mountain-like masses, terraced setbacks and soaring pinnacles proved as crucial as any built work to setting the tone for New York's super-charged urbanism of the 1920's" (p.31)

:: image via Artect

In addition to outlining the early role of the 'renderer' in early architectural work (which has evolved, but to tell you the truth graphics say a lot, even with modern architecture). Ferriss shows the power of the pencil (or charcoal) in translating complex data into visions of urban form.

This idea of drawing and graphic representation is the crux of Chapter 2 - a mixed bag incorporating the work of Lynch, Wurman, and Tufte that investigates"...the use of diagramming and mapping as a means of simplifying the complexity of urban flux (changes in urban form, i.e. the development of parks, streetscape, new buildings, etc.) in essence to review the complexities of the city." (p.41) Most of these works are well-known and taught at many universities, so a quick overview will suffice.

As mentioned in the text, Lynch used mapping to draw out the 'imagability of the city', which " the quality embodied in a physical object that gives it a high likliehood of generating a strong image within a given observer." (p.42) While the resultant produced drawn line drawings are compelling on their own, they are even more powerful when compared to each other to showing perceptual differences between individual memory maps, field sketches and what this means for urban form and potential markers to influence the evolution of our mental maps.

:: Imageability Mapping (Lynch) - image via CSISS
While Lynch gave us a much-used urban vocabulary of paths, edges, nodes, districts, and landmarks which has persisted in use in mapping for planning and design, the work of information architects such as Wurman investigate the ability to graphically represent massive or complex sets of data - whether urban or merely statistical. In Wurman's view, the map is essential: "You cannot perceive anything without a map. A map provides people with the means to share in the perceptions of others. It is a pattern made understandable; it is a rigorous, accountable form that follows implicit principles, rules and measures. Maps provide comfort of knowing in that they orient us to the reality of place." (p.57)

:: Understanding Demographics (Wurman) - image via Architectradure

work encompasses a range of disciplines - some not specifically urban, but all relevant. His more recent work takes it back to global urbanism with the19.20.21 project, a study of 19 cites, with 20 million people in the 21st century, which will "...focus on globalization patterns and explanations that will become key tools for mapping and understanding our future city." (p.59) Switching scales dramatically, Edward Tufte has been imminently influential in a new focus on visual communication, stating that "...the packaging of information is something that ultimately determines how much is accepted and used by other individuals." (p.60)

This focus on graphic legibility
isn't necessarily 'mapping' but is more focused on the means and methods of delivering information. In this case, Tufte is best known for amazingly complex but clear drawings using rules (i.e. integrity of scale, appropriate color schemes, correct proportion, and elimination of 'chartjunk') used rigorously to display information. Somewhat in conflict with the more abstract creative aspects (shown in upcoming topics) these data rules are essential to understand and achieve "clarity, correctness, and coherence"... something we should all strive for in any graphic communication. 

:: Napoleon's March (Tufte) - image via Edward Tufte

Chapter 3 includes exploration of the work of Dutch firm
MVRDV, particularly their groundbreaking planning studies "...using data to generate alternative urban and architectural forms and as a means to help guide planners to urban design decisions." (p.68). Implied as plausible fictions, these graphics crunch available numbers into a 'statistical description' making 'datascapes', or abstractions of physical, social, cultural, and environmental features in graphic representations.

:: China Hills Datascape - image via

Not solutions per se, these graphics merely outline "..
.the maximum limits within which the architect can produce his designs.", providing a touchstone to potential decisionmaking. . The absurdity of creatively generating data, then using "...architectural autonomy to impose 'expert' authority, that is, the architect plays a part as the director of political powers in design." (p.70) While there is some debate about the overall relevance, as a tool for urban exploration of ideas these datascapes are a work of pure genius, in particular in works such as Pig City - which take scenarios and create actual spatial configurations that satirize concepts of growth, localism, and realities of scale - provoking dialogue and debate.

:: Pig City - image via Archilogy

This concept, and the bulk of the chapter, references the amazing 'Metacity/Datatown' which ought to be required text for any budding urbanist, at least in terms of new methods of analysis and representation. In a nutshell, the premise involves quadrupling of the current population of the Netherlands, portrayed in a range of visual 'scenarios' encompassing living, agriculture, CO2, energy, waste, and water consumption. These concepts could yield dull and dry map objects, but instead focus on 'extremizing scenarios' that "..
.takes a leap in regards to mapping conventions by visually documenting the urban consequences spatially and by providing a potential new urban form." (p.72)

:: Datatown - image via Serial Consign

One example above uses an abstraction (red boxes for areas of habitation) juxtaposed with graphic representation of other materials, in this case 
waste "...such as household products, dredging sludge, vehicle wrecks, hazardous waste, office products and waste from construction and demolition. These amounts emerge as hills an mountainous forms, which create a new landscape." (p.80). The chapter ends with an interview with Maas, summed up in the following quote:
"Datascapes give a more mathematical answer towards the complexity. The second component, which was surrounding meta (data types and kinds), deals with larger urban processes that became more relevant in the practice again. Architects, like me, were only dealing with objects. There was a need to redefine architectural object through some meaning in an urban and larger format, and urbanism deals with issues of numbers and statistics and of course larger sclaes, more than the individual." (p.88)
Chapter 4 get's into Corner's map-landscapes (best captured in the book 'Taking Measures Across the American Landscape" w/Alex Maclean)... are a hybrid of maps and drawings: "...a combination of map and drawing styles such as collage crafted by Corner as a means to interpret the aerial photos, and thus, creating a map-drawing of the site." (p.94) Less specifically data driven, these maps are aligned closely with operational practices in landscape architecture, a blending of the creative and the technical. Getting out of the typical uses in design and planning - the concept is that mapping loses power with mere tracing or analysis, but instead "Maps present... an eidetic fiction constructed from factual observation. As both analogue and abstraction, then the surface of the map functions like an operating table, a staging ground or a theatre of operations upon which a mapper collects, combines, marks, masks, relates and generally explores" (p.100) That 'fiction' is where creative ideas come from.

:: image via Pruned

Amoroso also links these mappings with 
the field of landscape urbanism, connecting the ideas of change, temporality, and movement - embedding this in a typically static medium. Regarding LU: " is the potential mapping capability and visual representation of this new discipline that is most appealing. Landscape urbanism can be summed up as an arresting medley of landscape techniques. These include mapping, cataloging, triangulating, surface modeling, managing, phasing, layering and others - which can also be combined with urban design techniques such as planning, diagramming, assembling, allotting, zoning, etc. - to broaden the visual palette of the mapping field." (p.107) 

:: image via Pruned
The book outlines much of this early work, along with an interview with Corner that touches on many of the methods - including formative 
inspiration from McHarg, the connections between landscape and maps, and new avenues for research - all with Corner's trademark verbosity... An excerpt: "...I believe another body of research should look at how maps are inevitably cultural contstructs, not simply inert rational data banks, but active diagrams that extend a certain agency over how the world get's shaped. Artists and conceptualists are good at seeing maps in this way, not so much as informational devices, but as performance stages that can critically script certain spatial geographies in fresh ways." (p.112) These mapping techniques show up in some of Corner's later work in competition entries and diagrammatic mappings for such projects as the High Line and Fresh Kills - showing the progression of this method in practice.

A summary of the intent is mentioned in the foreword by Richard Saul Wurman Amoroso makes the connections from Hugh Ferris, to Edward Tufte, James Corner, Kevin Lynch and MVRDV's datascapes - creating maps as: 
"...statistics through time, the visualization of changing complex data that allow one to see the things they've always seen but never seen...", and utilizing " the preeminent way of organizaing and understanding complex data relative to demographics, marketing, the environment, traffic patterns, as well as the less romantic descriptions of crime and unrest." (p.viii)

The final section discusses some new tools (such as Google Earth) and the work of the SENSEable City Lab at MIT, which is worth checking out for their uses of sensors to develop new maps of invisibles. From their site: "The real-time city is now real! The increasing deployment of sensors and hand-held electronics in recent years is allowing a new approach to the study of the built environment. 
The way we describe and understand cities is being radically transformed - alongside the tools we use to design them and impact on their physical structure. "

:: image via SENSEable City Lab 

The bulk of this final section investigates a number of new 'map-landscapes' by others and created by Amoroso - inspired by the sum of precedents contained in the first four chapters. While the whole point is there aren't rules, she does outline a number of useful strategies for generation of map-landscapes gleaned from the precedents and studies - worth including:

  • Treat data as spatial representations
  • The visual representation of data is related to the numerical representation
  • Use the data as the palette to guide the form
  • Use effective artistic licenses
  • Dramatize the data
  • Choose an appropriate method or representation
  • Apply more lighting to emphasize larger quantities or points of interest in the data
  • Select the most telling viewpoint to profile the map-landscape
  • Visually represent the overall communicative message
The precedents and examples in 'The Exposed City' showcase an old/new method of using mapping techniques to display information in ways that can inform new processes such as landscape urbanism and complex urban planning and design. The ability to capture and reuse the myriad data in the world not just for analytical means, but with the interweaving of art and urban theory, gives designers new tools for representation and understanding of the complexities of the urban condition.



Map of Paris by L. L. Vauthier (1874), showing population density by contour lines, the first statistical use of a contour map
Escaping the 2D plane - The Contour plot 

A second approach to representing multivariate data arose from the use of contour maps in physical geography showing surface elevation (first published in 1752 by Buache), which became common in the early 19th century. It was not until 1843, however, that this idea was applied to data, when Leon Lalanne constructed the first contour plot showing the mean temperature, by hour of the day and by month at Halle.

Lalanne's data formed a regularly-spaced grid, and it was fairly easy to determine the isolines of constant temperature. Vauthier generalized the idea to three-way data with arbitrary (x,y) values in his map of the population density of Paris. Galton later cited this as one of the inspirations for his normal correlation surface.

[Credits Image E. J. Marey (1878); Background Palsky (1996), Beniger & Robyn (1978)]

data visualisations : Senseable city lab Mit | Datappeal tool

Amsterdam SMS messages on New Years Eve from Senseable city lab | Aaron Koblin
The way we describe and understand cities is being radically transformed - alongside the tools we use to design them and impact on their physical structure. Studying these changes from a critical point of view and anticipating them is the goal of the SENSEable City Laboratory, a new research initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.    

A Tale of Many Cities

ManyCities is an intuitive and robust tool for exploring mobile phone traffic and patterns, mapped onto urban space. The application can be implemented by a wide spectrum of users – from specialized to general. Many Cities allows mobile operators to easily check the completeness of their records, to detect repeating patterns or special events and to define new development strategies. For a more general audience, the tool’s visualization output can inform collective behaviors and offer the possibility to participate and influence global trends.

The application currently browses mobile phone traffic patterns in London, New York, Hong Kong and Los Angeles during a 10 month period going from April 2013 to January 2014. More specifically, the records consist in network level counter data that includes the numbers of calls, SMS and data requests, as well as the amount of data uploaded and downloaded by subscribers (measured in Bytes and denoted in the app by "UL Data" and "DL Data"). To simplify and streamline the user experience, all data has been aggregated on the administrative areas of the target cities, which are easily identifiable spatial units.


DataAppeal  (2011)

More from the site: "This application merges analytics, modeling and art into a new data visualization tool. In essence, it is a simplified GIS, and visual geo-analytics tool.

London - Economic activity w/ Green Space
Τhis new tool, mrs Amoroso describes as:  "...a new way of geo-data visualization. This web-based  application takes geo-referenced data files and generates beautifully  designed 3D and animated maps. The application is ideal for anyone  interested in transforming their data into powerful, communicative, and  visually appealing messages."
This flexibility gives option for a number of different iterations to provide more lively 'datascapes' which will hopefully engage users in new ways.  A variation includes colors and different symbology
Toronto - Green Space in Neighborhoods

Chicago Green Space - alternative view angle
The exciting aspect of the service currently is that it is available free, at least for now.

As Amoroso mentions, there has been lots of interest in the site from government  agencies, municipalities, environmental agencies, universities,  research groups, geography associations, market analysis research  companies, news agencies, media groups, national defence agencies,  healthcare institutions, social enterprise, telecommunication companies,  cultural institutes, real estate agencies are typical users groups.

This tool has been created through a collaboration of GIS specialists  and artists to ensure that data is displayed in a more visually  appealing manner to create a stronger response to information.  The tool   builds on the dialogue from Amoroso and collaborators, while providing a shared platform, easy data interface, and access to robust tools for customization and creation of maps for many uses.

οτπική | αεροφωτογραφία - χαρτογράφηση

How aerial photography altered the way we perceive environmental change

A century ago, the airplane and high-altitude photography dramatically changed the way landscapes were seen and understood

<strong>Demonstrating the theory and practice whereby the camera was first used for mapping</strong> (Source: HM Wilson, <em>Topographic, Trigonometric and Geodetic Surveying Including Geographic, Exploratory, and Military Mapping with Hints on Camping, Emergency Surgery, and Photography, 3rd Edition,</em> New York, 1912, p. 293)Demonstrating the theory and practice whereby the camera was first used for mapping (Source: HM Wilson, Topographic, Trigonometric and Geodetic Surveying Including Geographic, Exploratory, and Military Mapping with Hints on Camping, Emergency Surgery, and Photography, 3rd Edition, New York, 1912, p. 293)

The development of the airplane and high-altitude photography during the early 20th century dramatically changed the way Canadian landscapes were seen and understood. In his article "Canada Between the Photograph and the Map: Aerial Photography, Geographical Vision, and the State," Matt Dyce explains how the legacies of seeing introduced by new image making practices continue to shape perceptions of environmental change. The article won the Journal of Historical Geography's 2014 Best Paper Prize.

Does distance equate with objectivity?
I began working on this article to answer a relatively simple question about how we visually comprehend environmental change. In 2009, National Geographic published an article called "Scraping Bottom" on the Athabasca oil sands in northern Alberta. Using a set of aerial photographs taken by helicopter, the article's author indicted the developments by showing boreal forests being eradicated by massive strip mining machines. The piece set off a public debate focused on whether these pictures "truthfully" showed the oil sands as they were, or if the photographer had mediated the message through selective framing and unfairly juxtaposing content to portray the mining operations in a bad light.
Environmentalist and pro-industry groups took predictable sides over the issue. As the discussion evolved and lobbies deployed additional images and arguments to support their claims about the oil sands (as man-made disaster or well-managed development), I became interested in how both their viewpoints seemed to "elevate" as each sought a more objective visual rhetoric to make claims about the tar sands. Their efforts almost converged in space, with pro-development platforms relying on remotely sensed satellite imagery to show the extent of wetland remediation on one side, while critics used photographs demonstrating that the tar sands could be seen from space with the "naked eye" on the other — as if no further explanation were necessary.
If environmentalists and pro-industry groups could not agree on how to understand the oil sands, why could they find agreement on this other claim: that the most truthful pictures were those obtained from the farthest away? Indeed, why is it that images acquired at high altitudes are seen as more objective than ones taken from the surface of the Earth?   
It turns out the answer has a lot to do with a major theme in historical geography concerning how environments are seen and represented. During the 19th century, as the Canadian state evolved and the lesser known regions of the new country were explored, maps and photographs were the primary visual devices through which geographical information about new landscapes could be communicated. Government branches like the Geological Survey of Canada and the Dominion Land Survey carried out this work, which by necessity was also conducted by sending expedition teams for months at a time into the deep interior of the continent. However, once airplanes became available in the 1910s and 1920s, the vantage for gathering knowledge and the viewpoint for seeing Canadian landscapes radically changed.  

Airplanes bring about two major changes

A historical analysis is useful here since it allows a comparison of before and after a change happened. As airplanes moved explorers and surveyors into the sky, almost immediately two changes occurred:
  • The first happened to photographs; a new kind of depiction emerges called the "aerial photograph." Taken from an airplane high above the Earth, these new pictures gave people a realistic vantage of the world few had seen before, and the new images soon appeared everywhere in Canada – in government reports, magazines, school textbooks – where they held out the promise a valuable new way of doing all kinds of things, from urban planning, to farming, mineral prospecting, forest management and more.  
  • <strong>An aerial photograph on the cover of a Canadian university geography textbook</strong> (Source: NV Scarfe, GS Tomkins and DM Tomkins, <em>A New Geography of Canada</em>, Toronto, 1963)An aerial photograph on the cover of a Canadian university geography textbook(Source: NV Scarfe, GS Tomkins and DM Tomkins, A New Geography of Canada, Toronto, 1963)
    The second change happened to maps – all of a sudden the potential to survey the vast interior of Canada from the air seemed within reach. Air crews could reconnoiter in an afternoon what took teams on the ground years to accomplish. This was not possible in the 1800s, when surveying carried out on the ground was a laborious process requiring viewing instruments for calculating angles and measuring distances between points in order to plot maps. Toward the end of the 19th century, Italian surveyors realized that if you could take a photograph of the area you hoped to map, it was possible to apply the laws of perspective to calculate the same distances quickly and efficiently. The change that happened to mapping was called photogrammetry, the practice of measuring the Earth using still images.
While usefully pioneered in the Canadian Rockies during the 1880s, the flatter topography of the interior made photogrammetry impossible until the arrival of the airplane enabled surveyors to picture the ground below without needing a mountain to climb. Taken together, these changes indicate that during the 20th century, maps and photographs were brought together through this novel object called the "aerial photograph."

Many forces shape the way we "see"

Ostensibly the use of the aerial photograph as a mapping tool is about the convergence of three technologies: the airplane, the invention of photography in 1839, and the rules of perspective.
We know that during the Great War (1914-1918), great urgency was placed on the development of high-altitude cameras, faster and more efficient aircraft, and devices for translating photographic information into maps, and that with the coming of peace, these were applied to civilian use in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. We also know that much the same thing happened during the World War II (1939-1945) at an even greater rate. However, that doesn't really tell us much about why high-altitude imagery is thought of as more truthful or objective.
To find an answer, we can again use a historical approach. Another concern of historical geographers is being able to situate past human-environment relationships in their cultural contexts. We can think about not only the tools people used to see, but the way "seeing" itself was also something learned and practiced, or shaped by social and political forces. This requires revisiting the way people thought about maps and photographs before the airplane and the aerial photograph brought these two forms of representation together.
Listening to the 19th-century surveyors and explorers talking about doing science reveals these weren't just different tools for representing geography; maps and photographs also invoked different ways of guaranteeing and asserting truthful observation. On the one hand, photographic tropes embellished the characteristics of environments, very much after the landscape painting school developed in England.
 Explorers took pictures of themselves and environments that helped people understand environments by showing what it was to move through them: trekking across the prairies, paddling canoes, hauling York boats, encountering First Nations people, clearing a path through dense forest. In survey imagery, the expertise of surveyors, explorers and scientists rested on the fact that they were there, and if they weren't in the scene, then they at least were there to get the shot. These qualities do not appear in discussions about mapping. The guarantee to truth in the map is the distanced kind of vision it offers, using a Cartesian plane and a type of projection model to capture a three-dimensional Earth in a two dimensional model, selectively representing watersheds, elevations, or land cover; the map worked by selectively parsing different domains of knowledge.
<strong>Illustrating the procedure of taking aerial photographs</strong> (Source: GH Matthes, "Oblique aerial surveying in Canada," <em>Geographical Review</em> 16, 1926, p. 572)Illustrating the procedure of taking aerial photographs (Source: GH Matthes, "Oblique aerial surveying in Canada," Geographical Review 16, 1926, p. 572)
<strong>The Country reduced to map form</strong> (Source: GH Matthes, "Oblique aerial surveying in Canada," <em>Geographical Review</em> 16, 1926, p. 579)The Country reduced to map form (Source: GH Matthes, "Oblique aerial surveying in Canada," Geographical Review16, 1926, p. 579)
Knowing the cultural context allows us to read the emergence of the new images differently. For example, when Canadian surveyors see the first aerial photographs in the 1910s and 1920s, they all make the same comment: "These are just like maps!" These statements really struck me because they reveal a prior lack of certainty about what aerial photographs would be and what types of seeing they were going to make possible. Indeed, the need to say they looked like maps makes one wonder what other things they may have looked like – why not say they looked exactly like photographs? 
As it turns out, not everyone was in agreement that the new kinds of images were maps, and what kind of maps they were, if so. The majority of my article deals with the period between the 1920s and 1970s, when practitioners tried to sort out what aerial photographs were and how they should be used.
One of the main questions was whether map mosaics were the best way of recording landscape – a practice that involved flying over areas of land taking pictures at regular intervals from a controlled height, then assembling them into a montage of the geography below.
Another question was what angle to produce air photographs for use in photogrammetry. Images pointing straight down at 90 degrees appeared more like a conventional map, versus oblique images presenting Earth on an angle so you can see the landscape moving away to the vanishing point of the horizon – more in line with a photograph.
They also had questions about the interpretation of these new images.
  <strong>Constructing a map mosaic</strong> (Source: Don W. Thomson, <em>Skyview Canada: A Story of Aerial Photography in Canada</em>, Ottawa: Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, 1975, p. 133)Constructing a map mosaic (Source: Don W. Thomson, Skyview Canada: A Story of Aerial Photography in Canada, Ottawa: Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, 1975, p. 133)

The drawback of using perspective grids to survey using photogrammetry was that the topography and character of the landscape below was not recorded. Conversely, reading aerial images as landscapes came with its own problems, since photo interpreters needed to be trained in recognition of landscape features and terrain types – many of which looked different from above than on the ground.  I called the article "Canada between the photograph and the map" because the aerial image clearly invoked questions of how to frame the national environment using a new technology. Each new discussion over the nature of aerial images positioned them in terms of the prior kinds of representations: if they were like photographs, they emphasized landscapes and characteristics; if maps, distances and spatial coordinates.   
When cultural context is added to historical change, what initially appears to be a new development in technology turns into a question about what kind of objects the aerial photographs are and how to look at them.
Along with how people looked at aerial images, another thing the article traces is the matter of where people looked. One of the things that distinguishes historical geographers from other historians is this attention to space and spatiality. When thinking about histories of vision, environment and science, we may give more consideration to the sites and locations where practice "takes place." Asking about how geography matters in the production of knowledge is a particularly strong branch of study in UK universities. When applied to the case of aerial photography in Canada, a trend emerges where the sites of doing science change after the airplane. The 19th-century surveying that took place in the field required teams of axe men to clear lines of sight, experts using theodolites, and travel by ox cart or river. Surveyors saw themselves as hardened by the elements, and this was important in how they were understood as experts in environmental knowledge — tropes made evident through photographs they produced on their expeditions.
  <strong>The interpreter and landscape idealized</strong> (Source: Rabben, "Fundamentals of photo interpretation," in: RM Colwell, American Society of Photogrammetry, Manual of Photographic Interpretation, Washington, 1960, p. 140. Reproduced with permission from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing)The interpreter and landscape idealized (Source: Rabben, "Fundamentals of photo interpretation," in: RM Colwell, American Society of Photogrammetry, Manual of Photographic Interpretation, Washington, 1960, p. 140. Reproduced with permission from the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing)

The airplane and the aerial photograph change all of this. A small team flies around in a plane, using a high-altitude camera that is sometimes a black box to the operators, and returns to have the images developed and plotted by experts working in the survey offices. Rather than the field, it is in the libraries and laboratories that knowledge is created through careful analysis of the images. As sites of knowledge-making changed, so did depictions of survey practice – in aerial images, the surveyors' labor and expertise was hidden from view. What this corresponds to is that as the viewpoint elevated, the surveyors themselves disappeared from the frame.  For me, this went a long way to answering the question of why, as the viewpoint elevated, the objectivity or truth of the depiction seemed to increase.  The higher a photograph is taken from, the more we think of it like a map – guaranteeing objectivity through the absence of human presence.

I have been using "we" think this or that about photographs throughout this paper to refer to the way many Canadians look at aerial images of the environment. Why I feel justified in making this inclusive generalization is addressed in the final section of the paper, which concerns the history of geography. Why might the people of Canada adopt these viewpoints of a relatively small group of the state bureaucrats working in cartographic surveying? The answer lies in the story of geography as a discipline.
Geographers in Canada enthusiastically embraced aerial photographs as an objective means of looking at Canada – they even splashed them across the covers of their textbooks! This really made sense, because geography was a new discipline in universities and only offered piecemeal in public schools, and geographers were searching for ways to make themselves seem indispensable and useful. They latched onto the aerial photograph as a uniquely geographical object precisely because it offered characteristic depictions of landscape at the same time as the cartographic potential of photogrammetry. Teaching people to see and interpret these became a main task of geographers, and before long classrooms were full of students sitting at rows of stereoscopes looking at image sets. In classrooms, school textbooks, and universities, aerial photographs became the preferred means of depicting Canadian environments.
Geography teaching in schools became a way of disseminating these ways of seeing to the general public.

Today, when we look at images of environments and landscape changes, we are influenced by the historical geography of the viewpoint shaped by the aerial photograph.

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